New £60m government fund to tackle global plastic pollution

Theresa May at a conference

"Although the improvement is modest, this unanticipated discovery suggests there is room to further improve these enzymes, moving us closer to a recycling solution for the ever-growing mountain of discarded plastics".

The funding package was announced in a speech on Sunday (15 April) in advance of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, in which Theresa May also revealed the first countries to have joined the new Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance (CCOA).

Each of the countries will be asked to pledge action on plastic waste, from banning microbeads to committing to cutting down on single-use plastic bags.

She is due to call on all of the 52 leaders present to sign up to the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance - a strategy to help developing Commonwealth nations research and improve and waste management. New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ghana have already joined, Downing Street said on Saturday. This will protect the livelihoods and health of those that are affected by plastic pollution - while also providing new jobs in some of the world's poorest countries.

From the funding announced by May, £25 million ($35.8 million) will be used to help researchers investigate the issue of marine plastic from a scientific, economic and social perspective.

More news: Commonwealth Games: Organisers admit 'we got it wrong' at closing ceremony

The research was led by teams at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom and the USA department of energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

In addition, up to £3 million will be awarded to pilot waste management programmes in two or three developing countries to prevent waste entering the oceans from cities. The UK public has shown passion and energy in the fight against plastic waste.

Although measures to hike taxes on single-use plastics are still under development, the response from the business world to anti-plastic sentiment has been dramatic, with firms from PG Tips to Iceland pledging to cut down - or outlaw altogether - single-use plastics from their operations.

Global broadcasters Sky and National Geographic have teamed up to drive a global media campaign to reduce plastic litter in the ocean.

"There is strong potential to use enzyme technology to help with society's growing waste problem by breaking down some of the most commonly used plastics".

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